Plugin Development

Execute Function

The execute function is the entry point for the plugin. It is called when the plugin is executed via the API. The execute function is passed the following arguments:

  • command - A dict of the command arguments, already parsed and validated by the core Empire code

  • kwargs - Additional arguments that may be passed in by the core Empire code. Right now there are only two.

    • user - The user database object for the user that is executing the plugin

    • db - The database session object

If the plugin doesn't have **kwargs, then no kwargs will be sent. This is to ensure backwards compatibility with plugin pre-5.2.

Error Handling

If an error occurs during the execution of the plugin and it goes unchecked, the client will receive a 500 error.

There are two Exceptions that can be raised by the plugin execution function: PluginValidationException: This exception should be raised if the plugin fails validation. This will return a 400 error to the client with the error message. PluginExecutionException: This exception should be raised if the plugin fails execution. This will return a 500 error to the client with the error message.

raise PluginValidationException("Error Message")
raise PluginExecutionException("Error Message")


Before the plugin's execute function is called, the core Empire code will validate the command arguments. If the arguments are invalid, the API will return a 400 error with the error message.

The execute function can return a String, a Boolean, or a Tuple of (Any, String)

  • None - The execution will be considered successful.

  • String - The string will be displayed to the user executing the plugin and the execution will be considered successful.

  • Boolean - If the boolean is True, the execution will be considered successful. If the boolean is False, the execution will be considered failed.


  • Tuple - The tuple must be a tuple of (Any, String). The second value in the tuple represents an error message. The string will be displayed to the user executing the plugin and the execution will be considered failed.

This is deprecated. Instead of returning an error message in a tuple, raise a PluginValidationException or PluginExecutionException.

def execute(self, command, **kwargs):

    # Successful execution
    # return None
    # return "Execution complete"
    # return True

    # Failed execution
    # raise PluginValidationException("Error Message")
    # raise PluginExecutionException("Error Message")
    # return False, "Execution failed"

Plugin Tasks

Plugins can store tasks. The data model looks pretty close to Agent tasks. This is for agent executions that:

  1. Want to attach a file result

  2. Need to display a lot of output, where notifications don't quite work

  3. Has output you'll want to look back at later

from empire.server.core.db import models

def execute(self, command, **kwargs):
    user = kwargs.get('user', None)
    db = kwargs.get('db', None)

    input = 'Example plugin execution.'

    plugin_task = models.PluginTask(["Name"],


For an example of using plugin tasks and attaching files, see the basic_reporting plugin.


Notifications are meant for time sensitive information that the user should be aware of. In Starkiller, these get displayed immediately, so it is important not to spam them.

To send a notification, use the plugin_service.

def register(self, mainMenu):
    self.plugin_service = mainMenu.pluginsv2

def execute(self, command, **kwargs):
    # Do something

    self.plugin_service.plugin_socketio_message(["Name"], "Helo World!"

Using the database

Execute functions and hooks/filters are sent a SQLAlchemy database session. This does not need to be opened or closed, as the calling code handles that. The database session is passed in as a keyword argument.

from sqlalchemy.orm import Session

def execute(self, command, **kwargs):
    user = kwargs.get('user', None)
    db: Session = kwargs.get('db', None)

    agents = self.main_menu.agentsv2.get_all(db)

    return "Execution complete"

It is important not to close the database session, as it will be used by the calling code and sent to other hooks/filters.

from sqlalchemy.orm import Session
from empire.server.core.db import models

def on_agent_checkin(self, db: Session, agent: models.Agent):
    # Do something

When executing code outside of the execute function or hooks/filters, you will need to open a database session. This means that you must handle your database session in the plugin. Using the Context Manager syntax ensures the db session commits and closes properly.

from empire.server.core.db.base import SessionLocal

def do_something():
    with SessionLocal.begin() as db:
        # Do the things with the db session

Event-based functionality (hooks and filters)

This is outlined in Hooks and Filters.

Importing other python files

If you want to import other python files in your plugin, you can do so by importing them relative to empire.server.plugins. For example, if you have a file called in the same directory as your plugin, you can import it like so:

from empire.server.plugins.example import example_helpers

Note: Relative imports will not work. For example, the example plugin cannot import with from . import example_helpers.

4->5 Changes

Not a lot has changed for plugins in Empire 5.0. We've just added a few guard rails for better stability between Empire versions.

The plugin interface is a guarantee that certain functionality will not be changed outside of major Empire version updates (ie 4->5). So which functions are guaranteed? Any of the functions on the core/*_service classes not prefixed with a _.

Does this mean you can't use util functions or modify state in other parts of the empire code? No. In most cases you will be fine to do so. We as maintainers just can't keep track of any and every thing a plugin may be doing and guarantee that it won't break in a minor/patch update. This is no different than the way things were pre 5.0.

  • Make sure is a dict and not a tuple. A lot of plugins had a trailing comma that caused it to be interpreted as a tuple.

  • Update Author to Authors and follow the new format (Link, Handle, Name)

  • The execute plugin endpoint no longer automatically changes the state of the self.options dict inside the plugin. Instead, it sends validated parameters to the plugin as a dict and the plugin itself should decide whether it makes sense to modify the internal state or not.

  • plugin_socketio_message was moved from MainMenu to plugin_service.

  • Example conversion for a 5.0 plugin can be seen in ChiselServer-Plugin

Future Work

  • improved plugin logging - Give plugins individual log files like listeners have. Make those logs accessible via Starkiller.

  • endpoint for installing plugins - A user would be able to provide the URL to a git repository and Empire would download and install the plugin.

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